Screening Section 8 Applicants

2 Replies

I’m a 1st time landlord in Colorado, preparing to rent out my first home. I got an applicant asking if I accept Section 8. While I believe Section 8 is protected here, I have my own minimum qualifying standard that the tenant(s) must earn 3x the monthly rent per month.

How do I find out what Section 8 would pay per month or I do strictly go off the applicants listed income?

Is denying the applicant by simply stating they do not meet my minimum qualifying standard enough to protect me as the owner?

Being a newbie I don’t want to get myself in trouble right out of the gate.

I appreciate any advice.

Thanks!

@Eric Schroeder hey there, Section 8 landlord from St. Louis here.  Section 8 is all I do so I'll try to answer as best as I can even though I'm not in your market.

Check first to see if the municipality, county or state has a law against discriminating for "source of income." This isn't a protected class federally but it sometimes is at the state or local level.

If they do have such a law, you have to take a Section 8 voucher (conversely, if that law exists, people in your area couldn't do what I do, which is ONLY take Section 8 tenants).  If they don't, you are free to say - we don't take Section 8.

If there is such a law, you have to change your criteria for Section 8 voucher holders.  How, frankly, I don't know but I don't think your 3x requirement would hold.

Try to find some local landlords who are successful with Section 8 (not the ones who hate it - their advice is no good here) if you end up wanting or needing to take it determine what the rent rates would be.  In general, the rents should be about what the market rents are but that can vary and there is a ceiling due to the "fair market rent" numbers for your area. 

Each Housing Authority uses their own process for setting rents.  Also, what I generally see around the country is Section 8 rents keep up with market rents in B, C and D areas.  They're usually not as high in A areas due to the fair market rent standards.  Once in a while, Section 8 rents will be slightly higher than market rents but again, you'll need some local intel to know where that is.

Lastly, I'm obviously not a lawyer and I don't play one anywhere, even here on BP so if you're concerned about it, check with a local lawyer who specializes in landlord/tenant stuff.  

Good luck!